Ceramic Students Test the Art Market at Grossmont College

Student Brandon Brusky shows three sculptures, from left: Ode to Dr. Seuess, Chess Bishop, and Madonna and Child
Student Brandon Brusky shows three sculptures, from left: Ode to Dr. Seuess, Chess Bishop, and Madonna and Child

Press release by Grossmont College

For ceramic students, the outdoor exhibit on Grossmont College’s Main Quad on Tuesday, Dec. 3, was an opportunity to test how well their work would be accepted in the market place. For passersby  the exhibit was a chance to purchase some one-of-a-kind holiday gifts.

Brandon Brusky, a Navy veteran, had among his works for sale a multicolored Ode to Dr. Seuss, an abstract Madonnna and Child, and a large, abstract chess bishop.
Instructor Jeff Irwin praised each of these works as being “loose, gestural, and having a certain boldness that other works might not have.” He said they were in “very strong contrast to some of the other students’ work that is very delicate.”

While he is not certain that he could make a full-time living from making ceramics, Brusky said he is convinced that it could be a lucrative, and pleasant, way to make supplemental income. He has supported himself as a cook for many years.

His Ode to Dr. Seuss was a multicolored sculpture, which Brusky designed as a vehicle to try out different varieties and hues of glaze. The Madonna and Child started with the union of a little pot and a big pot.  To make the head  for the larger pot he tipped yet another pot at a precarious angle. The components of the bishop came from the potter's wheel, and then Brusky  fashioned its face by hand.

A table away was art work by student Andi Duke, who said she likes to make her pieces in “really pleasant shapes – round and curvy, kind of like a woman.”

She said she often compares her pots to “sexy ladies – I really like the curviness.  I am trying to get that in my work, with a lot of colors.”

Rather than being a sculpture of a woman that might sit on a shelf or lodge in a breakfront, Duke prefers that her pieces have functionality, such as a vase, a plate or a cup. “I think the best part about pottery is that it is not art that sits on your wall for you to look at, but is art that you can interact with every day,” she said.

Like Brusky, she believes ceramics will be a supplemental income source for her.  She also is learning American Sign Language with the expectation that someday she might teach art in a class for deaf children.

Examining Duke’s work, Professor Irwin commented, “she is throwing very functional forms, but they have a sense of softness, a roundness, and a feminine characteristic.”  Turning a cup over in his hands, he added.  “They have this feminine aspect, very light, very thin.” 

He also expressed pleasure over designs of butterflies that Duke had transferred to the inside of a cup.

A few more tables away, another ceramic caught Irwin’s eye – a pitcher that was covered with little pads, such as one might see on the tentacle of an octopus. In fact, said the student ceramicist, Leanne Ludvik, the design was inspired by a sea anemone, which can have the same kind of bumps on its body.

“Most of my works are sea-life related,” she said. “I had the idea for a long time, but I hadn’t decided what shape I wanted to put it into. For a while I was thinking a round shape to emulate the shape of the animal, but then I made this pitcher. I decided the effect would be more interesting on a shape like this than on a round shape.”

So she “squished” down little pads of clay and added them in columnar fashions around the pitcher.  “I really like the radial symmetry of it,” she said.  “It has a nice flow.”   

The pitcher is subtly painted in such pastel colors as green, yellow and orange, Irwin noted.  Breaking up the design is a white horizontal ring—which Irwin agreed made the piece even more interesting. 

“This piece goes beyond being a pitcher,” Irwin said approvingly of the work. “She took the idea of a pitcher and added all this detail, symbolism, and gave all this attention to detail. I want to pick it up, examine it, feel it, and I really want to spend time with it.”

Ludvik has taken classes in painting and sculpture, “and I still love painting—I like to incorporate it into my work.” A friend suggested they take a ceramics course together “so I did it for fun, and now I am into it!”

For all three students, deciding which of their pieces to sell proved a difficult task. Brusky said he left at home a ceramic turtle that he made, so there would be no chance to sell it.  Duke that it is very hard to give up some of her pieces – especially “those that I’ve just made or just finished. I need some time with them before I let them go.”  Likewise, Ludvik said about the pitcher that Irwin was praising, “a big part of me does not want to sell it, but it would be a nice thing to let things go, I guess.”

The professor said that besides teaching technique to students, “we want them to try to figure out what their style is, what they relate to in terms of form, color, volume and mass, and really analyze that, look at it, and try to develop their own unique visions.”


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